11 Writing Your Open Text

Writing an open text that is coherent takes discipline, endurance, and determination. Depending on the length and subject matter of your text, you will need to carve out an extended schedule to think and write. The detailed outline and project timeline created at the beginning will help guide your writing efforts.

Here are some tips when writing the first draft:

  • begin with defining learning objectives and key terms
  • decide on key terms and vocabulary early in the drafting process to help with consistency throughout the open text
  • get your ideas drafted quickly, without formatting
  • don’t worry about headings, graphics or other issues
  • there will be time to proofread, copyedit and format the book later
  • keep a list of materials you would like to include in the book, but haven’t found yet.

Use a Style Guide and a Style Sheet

To reduce work in the long run, use a style guide and a style sheet.

Resource – Style Guide

This Style Guide [PDF] covers spelling, punctuation and other style considerations for your open text. The elements of the style guide are also outlined below for easy reference.

Template – Style Sheet

Please use this style sheet to record any spelling, grammar, and other variations of the style guide for your text. Following the style sheet will ensure that all the authors and copy editors consistently use the same spelling, grammar, and other style rules.

  1. Download the above style sheet template and fill out as much information as possible, including book title, author/s, copy editor, and proofreader.
  2. Add or remove items as they pertain to your book. These might include:
    1. exercises (and how to format them)
    2. back matter and/or appendix information and how to label each
    3. key terms: how and when to highlight them in the text body and if they should be summarised in an end-of-book glossary
  3. As well as different or additional styles and formatting, you can list:
    1. styling issues included in the style guide, but repeated in the style sheet for easy reference
    2. the correct usage of grammar and spellings that are often inaccurate
  4. Change and update the style sheet throughout open text production. Update the style sheet each time you make changes or add to it and share it with your team.
  5. When the text is finished, date the style sheet and mark it as the “final copy.” This reference document can be shared as part of your open text when it’s published.

Academic Testimonial

Light blue book cover for Visuals for Influence: In Project Management and Beyond by Bronte van der HoornI was always committed to my open text project but my excitement when my ‘writing’ day came around each week surprised even me. Any academic knows the competing demands we face and that finding time to write an open text isn’t easy amongst the pressure to produce top quartile articles, teaching duties, and never-ending admin requests.

However, I found this project to be refreshingly different to my other academic (and admin) work! My open text was a space for me to express my passion for the topic in a manner that accurately represented my ideas and made them accessible for my target reader. And this was a novel luxury!

It was during the writing of my open text that I have felt most ‘academic’. Not ‘academic’ in a theoretical, distant, clinical way – but in the way I had hoped academia would be; I was making accessible a topic that I continue to learn (research) about and was helping others to learn and grow interest and capability in that area too – not just in my classrooms, but hopefully beyond.

Dr Bronte van der Hoorn, author of Visuals for Influence: In Project Management and Beyond.

Chapter Attribution

This chapter is adapted in parts from:


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Open Publishing Guide for Authors Copyright © 2023 by University of Southern Queensland is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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